The Quotable Thanissaro

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:58 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Back in the 19th century when Westerners were beginning to read some of the Buddhist texts, and all saw was suffering, death, aging, illness, As a result, they wrote Buddhism off as a very pessimistic religion. But when they went to Asia, they saw that Buddhists in general were very happy people. The temple fairs, the various observances in the course of the year, were always very happy gatherings. And the Westerners came to the conclusion that Buddhists didn’t understand their own religion. If they really understood what the Buddha taught, they would be morose and horribly depressed. But instead they were happy.

So Westerners came up with a theory of what they called the great tradition versus the little tradition, i.e. the great tradition being what was in the texts and the little tradition being Buddhism on the ground. But what they really missed was the central message in the texts, which is that your happiness is in your hands. And that true happiness comes from behaving in a way that’s totally harmless. And not just harmless in the sense that you’re not going to hurt other people, but also that you’re going to positively do good by practicing generosity as an important part of the path. This is how the Buddha’s message is empowering. You can create a happy life by acting in ways that are noble and good.

You see this in the Buddhist tradition all the way from the time of the Buddha’s funeral. Even though the Buddha had just passed away, there was singing and dancing at his funeral in honor of him. On the one hand, people were sad that he had gone, but on the other, they were honoring the fact that they had been alive when there had been such a wonderful human being in the world. The same with the temple fairs in the very early centuries: They were very happy occasions because everyone got together to do good. Social caste didn’t mean anything. Everybody was working together, helping in line with their talents and abilities.

So it is possible to create a good society. Whenever one gathers around the principle that true happiness comes from being harmless, being helpful, training the mind — that’s empowering. And you don’t need to have political power in the world outside. You have the power to create your own world right here, right now through your actions.
From: In Charge of Your World by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:52 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:[The Buddha] simply taught basic principles for people who want to wise up: The first principle is to realize that your actions are important, that they make a difference, that they come from your ideas and intentions, and that they can be changed for the better. Second, focus on what really is your responsibility, and let go of things that are not. Third, train your mind to develop better and better answers to the question that focuses on what you're really responsible for: what you can do that will lead to your long-term welfare and happiness. Then take advantage of the tools the Buddha offers so that it's easier to give up the things that you like doing that are harmful, and to get yourself to do the things that are difficult but will lead to the long-term happiness you want.
From: Wisdom for Dummies by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

treyg21
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Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2017 8:54 pm

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby treyg21 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:14 pm

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The furniture may be exquisite,
And the bars of solid gold,
But once the bird realizes that the cage is a cage,
It finds within that cage
No joy

- Ajahn Jayasaro

dhammapal
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:16 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:In the sutta on the frames of reference [DN22], the Buddha talks about being aware of the body in and of itself, either internally or externally. "Externally" means how the body relates to the world outside. In other words, you don't have to be only inside the body for it to count as Right Mindfulness. When you're dealing with other people, you need to have a frame of reference that includes the outside world but doesn't grab hold of it. You can stay tuned in to the body even as you're involved in dealing with other people, being sensitive to how those dealings register with the body. Then when you're sitting again with your eyes closed, you can make your frame of reference totally internal if you like. Or you can tune in to the sense of space that permeates the body and extends out in all directions.

So there are a lot of different things to tune in to that would qualify as the body in and of itself. It's important to realize this because sometimes we fall into an ironclad notion that only certain kinds of awareness count as mindfulness. We feel that we're strapped there and can't function. There are reports of people who go for long retreats where they've been working on only one kind of mindfulness for three months and when they come out they can't function. It takes them a couple of days to readjust to being in the outside world. Well, the Buddha didn't have us practice so that we couldn't function, couldn't adjust, couldn't adapt. He simply wants you to be conscious and deliberate about the way you adapt: the different levels, the different layers, the different frequencies you're tuning in to. If you can shift levels mindfully, you're okay.
From: Varieties of Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:18 pm

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Ajaan Suwat’s quick and ready answer to the question as to what causes suffering was: “your likes” — things that you like to do, things that you like to focus on, that you like to enjoy. And those are very hard to give up because we tend to identify ourselves around them. We often feel that if we aren’t able to pursue our likes, then what’s the purpose of doing anything at all?

One of the purposes of concentration is to give you something better to like. Once you’ve got the sense of well-being that comes with the concentration, you realize that the pleasure that comes from this is the pleasure you’re looking for anyhow in all those other things, and it’s a lot more solid, a lot more reliable, and a lot more blameless. The mind is a lot clearer. This is the kind of pleasure that doesn’t require you to take anything away from anyone else. Then, using this, you can start looking back on those other desires and say, “I don’t really go for those anymore.” Things you used to like a lot: You’ve basically matured, you’ve outgrown them because you have a new range of skills.
From: Choose Your Cravings Wisely by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:08 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:[In AN8:53], the values of dispassion and being unfettered run counter to the pursuit of sensuality and to the sense of “I,” “mine,” “we,” and “ours” that underlie family life. The value of shedding runs counter to the domestic desire to accumulate as a protection against future lack; because this value includes the shedding of pride, it also runs counter to the desire for prominence in social affairs. The value of contentment runs counter to the domestic concern with accumulating wealth and stockpiling for the future; the value of modesty, counter to the desire for fame and recognition; and the value of seclusion, counter to the domestic desire to be surrounded by loved ones. The value of being unburdensome, on its face, coincides with the domestic value of frugality, but on a deeper level – in light of the fact that the act of creating a family places extra burdens on the environment to feed and support more people – it counsels celibacy as the ideal way to be unburdensome. Thus it runs directly counter to the domestic idea that the creation of a family is a gift to the world. As for persistence, both the Dhamma and domestic society value persistence in the pursuit of one’s aims, but they differ widely in their understanding of what those aims should be.

All of this means that the task of the Udāna is to convey – and make convincing – the countercultural message that the reader would be wise to focus on the drawbacks of many of the values and structures in which he/she has been nurtured since childhood, and to see the advantages of taking on a more demanding set of values in their place.
From: Udāna: Exclamations: Translator's Introduction by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

dhammapal
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Re: The Quotable Thanissaro

Postby dhammapal » Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:38 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:There’s a sutta [AN7:49]where the Buddha talks about different motivations for being generous. And the lowest one of course is, “I’ll get this back with interest.” But still that’s a good motivation. It’s better than saying, “I don’t see any need to be generous at all.” There’s so much of that out there. It’s when people begin to realize, okay, that if they really want to have wealth that lasts for a while, if they want to have well-being that lasts for a while, they’ve got to share. And that’s a meritorious motivation.

Now as you work up the levels of motivation, you finally get to the ones where it’s simply a natural expression of the mind. You say to yourself, “I give simply because it’s good to do this. The mind feels refreshed.” That, too, is a benefit you get from it.

So don’t look down on the idea that you’re going to get something out of this. Don’t think that it taints your merit or the goodness of your actions. It’s simply a matter of how refined you can make your sense of how you benefit from the generosity or how you benefit from the practice of virtue, how you benefit from the meditation. As your mind grows, it just gets more and more refined.
From: Don't Underestimate Merit by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


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